Capitals’ Magic Numbers for Clinching Division/Conference/President’s Trophy

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Photo: AP Photo/Alex Brandon

The Washington Capitals have 107 points after their convincing win over the Nashville Predators on Friday night.  Based on tonight’s action, here are the current magic numbers for the Caps for clinching playoff spots ahead of their division rivals.

Metropolitan Division Winning Elimination Numbers

Pittsburgh Penguins with 12 games to play, and having 84 points, they can accrue a maximum of 108 points.  The basic elimination number for the Penguins is 1, based on mathematical possibility, and a Pittsburgh loss Saturday versus Philadelphia, or a loss versus Washington on Sunday would eliminate the Penguins from winning the Metropolitan Division.  Furthermore, the Penguins play the Capitals twice and the Rangers and Islanders each once, which discernibly reduces the likelihood they would accrue maximum points.

New York Islanders have 85 points, have 13 games to play, so maximum points for them is 111.  Standard elimination number for them is 4 as the Caps hold the tie breaker. The Islanders play Pittsburgh, New York (Rangers), and Washington each once before completing the campaign.  As noted with the Penguins chances of catching the Capitals, regulation losses to divisional opponents by any of the trailing teams will gravely reduce the chances they can catch Washington.

New York Rangers have 88 points, and have 11 games to play; the maximum standings points possible is 110.  The elimination number for them is 3 since Caps hold tie breaker.  The Rangers face the Penguins and Islanders each once.

Even though it muddies the math, having divisional opponents playing each other down the stretch works to the Capitals advantage.  If both teams have not been eliminated from Metropolitan Divisional contention by March 27th, the fact that the Rangers play head to head against the Penguins means neither team will achieve their maximum.  The Rangers winning in any fashion would eliminate the Penguins.  The Penguins winning in regulation would decrease the Rangers elimination number, both helping the Capitals to lock up the divisional title.  This assures Washington that by the April 7th game between the Rangers and Islanders, those points to either squad will not matter. The same could be said about the Penguins and Islanders playing head to head on April 2nd as Washington should mathematically clinch the division based on games left for the teams behind them.

Philadelphia Flyers have 80 points, have 13 games to play, so maximum points for them is 106.  They are now eliminated from finishing first in the Metropolitan Division

Conference Championship Elimination Numbers

The Florida Panthers have 89 points, have 11 games left to play, so maximum points for them is 111.  Elimination number for them is 5, since Caps hold the tie breaker for ROW.

Given that Florida plays all of its remaining games against the Eastern Conference, and of those games one is against the New York Rangers, we can further deduce that the winner of this game can possibly eliminate the loser from catching Washington in the Conference race.  Based on the head-to-head conference games reducing the maximum points for all the trailing teams, simply by winning on Sunday, and either team (Florida or NY Rangers) losing Monday, the Capitals can possibly have claimed the Eastern Conference’s best record with two weeks left in the season.

The Boston Bruins have 86 points, have 10 games left to play so maximum points for them is 106.  Since they lost to the Anaheim Ducks tonight, they have been eliminated from having the best record in the conference.

The Tampa Bay Lighting have 85 points, have 11 games left to play so maximum points for them is 107.  Since Caps hold the tie breaker, they are already eliminated from having the best record in the Conference.

President’s Trophy Elimination Numbers

The Los Angeles Kings have 91 points, have 12 games left to play so maximum points for them is 115.  Elimination number would be 9. However the Kings play San Jose, Dallas, and Anaheim reducing the maximum points available to each of those teams.

The Anaheim Ducks have 87 points, have 12 games left to play so maximum points for them is 111.  Elimination number would be 4 since Caps hold the ROW tie breaker. Anaheim must play Dallas, Los Angeles, and a make-up game (snow) against Washington. Again, the available ‘actual’ points to trailing teams are less than the elimination number.

The San Jose Sharks have 84 points, have 12 games left to play so maximum points for them is 108.  Elimination number would be 1. San Jose must play the New York Rangers, St. Louis, Dallas, and Los Angeles.  By probability alone they may already be eliminated from winning the President’s Trophy.

The Dallas Stars have 93 points, have 10 games left to play so maximum points for them is 113.  Elimination number would be 7; however, games against Chicago, San Jose, Los Angeles, and Anaheim are detrimental to the available points left for them.

The St Louis Blues have 91 points, have 10 games left to play so maximum points for them is 111.  Elimination number would be 4 since Caps hold the ROW tie breaker. The Blues have San Jose, Chicago, and two games versus league leading Washington.  With any one loss, and any one Capitals win prior to their meeting on March 26th, St. Louis may already be eliminated from President’s Cup contention.

The Chicago Blackhawks have 90 points, have 10 games left to play so maximum points for them is 110.  Elimination number would be 4. The slumping ‘Hawks see Dallas and St. Louis as they draw their season to a close.  By puck drop on March 22nd, they may already be out of the overall NHL race.

Everything still rests on the Washington Capitals to bring the killer instincts to their game. Win, and the math does not matter.

By Diane Doyle

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About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His passion for the Caps has grown over the decades, which has included time as a season ticket holder, social media and community organizer, and most recently led to the founding of NoVa Caps in 2014. Jon earned a Bachelor's of Science in Engineering at Old Dominion University, and is a Systems Engineer during intermissions, which has been instrumental in supporting his Capitals habit.
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